For readers of this blog outside the US: a diocese elects its bishop. Then (unless the election occurs near the time of General Convention) a majority of diocesan standing committees and diocesan bishops must consent to the election within a specified time for it to be considered valid.
In the case of South Carolina, it seems that sufficient standing committees had the intent to consent to the election, but their forms did not follow that clearly specified in the canons. Citing those very specific canons, Bishop Katharine declared the election "null and void." Here's what she said then:
"In the past, when consents to episcopal elections have been so closely contested, the diocese has been diligent in seeking to have canonically adequate ballots submitted, asking Standing Committees to resubmit their ballots when necessary," she added. "It is certainly my hope that in future any diocese seeking consent to an election will use all possible effort to ensure that ballots are received in an appropriate form and in a timely manner." (emphasis mine)Was a different standard used in the case of Virginia's election? As Dan's post makes clear, the wording of the Virginia consent form is clearly not the same as the wording in the canons. If the intent to consent were all that mattered, then there would be no problem with this election. But a few months ago, we were told that form matters too, not just intent.
If the facts as presented in Dan's blog posting -- and the letter it quotes from San Joaquin -- are true, then we have a serious problem indeed. I'll reserve further comment until we hear more, as I am sure we will. "Sarah", who I believe is Sarah Hey from Stand Firm, has posted a comment at T19 suggesting that we all wait and see what this means and listen for an explanation. That's right -- we shouldn't leap to conclusions, but this is cause for concern.
I am an enormous fan of Bishop Katharine and her leadership. When I say "815" I do it with fondness most of the time. Let us hope there is an obvious explanation for all this, and that we are not seeing the double-standard that those on the right often perceive. In these critical times in our church, it is vital for all leadership -- parish, diocesan, and church-wide -- to be absolutely fair, just, and transparent. If those of us on the progressive side of things are going to demand justice, we can do no less in our own ministry and leadership.